Richard Verstegan 5 a.m., March 12
Pitchers and catchers both reported to Peoria Sunday, as ordered, and workouts in earnest begin Monday. Pitchers usually need a little more time to get up to speed than do position players, and it's difficult to pitch without a catcher. So, they go early. It's a wonderful tradition. Get a lightning bolt for an arm and you get some special rules to go along with it.
Gone are Heath Bell (Marlins), Mat Latos (Reds), and Aaron Harang (Dodgers); new faces include Huston Street, Edinson Volquez, and Micah Owings. Nolan Ryan once threw 259 pitches in one game. That was in 1974. In 2012, when the spring training games begin in March, Padres pitchers will be limited to 30 or 40 at first, it's a different game now. The idea is to build up some stamina. Expect them to get hit around some. Don't worry much about whether the boys win or lose.
And know that no one will ever throw 259 pitches in a single game ever again.
An arm can only take so much abuse. The Padres training staff has one of the very best reputations in all of baseball, they take care of those arms. The general idea is that a pitching arm has a shelf-life, a certain number of pitches in it, depending on the pitcher. In October, most of those arms get shut down, rested, and even if a pitcher does some winter ball, the pitch count is closely monitored. In March, they get back into it. Slowly.
The rotation is still a little up in the air, but Stauffer looks to be the ace, with Volquez, Dustin Moseley, and Clayton Richard in there somewhere. The last starting spot will feature a competition between Anthony Bass, Corey Leubke, and maybe even Josh Spence. The losers get rewarded with a bullpen role. That's not a bad consolation prize in a pitcher's park.
The boys will be tossing some long ball tomorrow in sunny Peoria, maybe a bullpen session or two. And you're going to like Huston Street, he's a smart guy and a team player. Micah Owings is another great addition. There is an unbelievable amount of optimism with this bunch. And the guys from last year's 90-loss squad? They're not happy with that, they want to fix things.
And just so you know, a lot of position players showed up in camp early. Don't be surprised if you wind up surprised.
Tony Gwynn's surgery was deemed as successful by his doctors, it will be a long recovery, but everything we've read has been encouraging. Biopsies taken were all negative. Excellent, excellent news, indeed.
Nothing new to report on the media contract front, the Padres and Fox Sports (regional-yet-to-be-named) are still awaiting word from MLB. Still thinking that this coming week something will shake loose. You don't just toss a few cameras around and hope for the best at the last minute, MLB is aware of the logistics involved with broadcasting. They'll approve it, and soon.
Unsure of where Moorad's fate as face of the ownership group is at the moment. If he isn't voted in when the media deal is approved, it's possible that it won't happen this year. Technically, that group still has two years to buy out Moores, but the buy-out money is still sitting in escrow which means that a lot of money isn't making any money. That's not going to remain static for very long. Money doesn't enjoy sitting in one place doing nothing. Sort of like a pitching arm.